I pursue research at the intersection of moral psychology, virtue ethics, and the philosophy of expertise. I have published extensively on the “virtue-as-skill” thesis, arguing that the development of virtue should be understood as a process of skill acquisition, and I draw on the psychological research on self-regulation and expertise to formulate this thesis. I recently published a book on this topic, The Skillfulness of Virtue: Improving Our Moral and Epistemic Lives, with Cambridge University Press (2018). Learning a skill is a process of acquiring practical knowledge, that is, the knowledge of how to do something, like building a house or driving a car. With virtue, the practical knowledge is the knowledge of how to act morally well, like acting honestly or kindly. The ‘virtue as skill’ thesis conceives of the virtuous person as an ethical expert, who has achieved expertise in several moral skills. I ground my conception of skill acquisition in the latest psychological research on self-regulation, expertise, and cognitive science. This interdisciplinary approach highlights the relevance of skill acquisition for those working in areas of moral education and moral psychology.
Ph.D. in Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, 2007
M.A. in Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, 2003
B.A. in Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, 1996
Moral Psychology, Ethical Theory, Philosophy of Expertise, Applied Ethics, Virtue Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Law, Political Philosophy, Virtue Epistemology
- Civic Virtue and “True” Selves: Finding Authenticity in the Complexities of Human Public Life (co-PI with Matthew Vess, Rebecca Schlegel, & Joshua Hicks), for The Self, Virtue & Public Life research initiative. (2019-2020)
- Understanding Virtue and Virtue Development in the Context of Heritability Information (co-PI with Matthew Vess, Rebecca Brooker, & Jenae Nederhiser), for the Genetics & Human Agency research initiative. (2016-2019)
Publications (selected recent work)
- The Skillfulness of Virtue: Improving our Moral and Epistemic Lives, Cambridge University Press (October 2018).
- reviewed by Sungwoo Um in Journal of Moral Philosophy (2021); reviewed by Mark Alfano in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2020); reviewed by Ellen Fridland in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2020); reviewed by Scott Woodcock in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2020); reviewed by Bana Bashour in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2021); reviewed by Mara Neijzen in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2021); reviewed by Noell Birondo in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2021).
- Replies to commentators for the symposium on my book The Skillfulness of Virtue: Improving our Moral and Epistemic Lives, with Mark Alfano, Bana Bashour, Noell Birondo, Ellen Fridland, Mara Neijzen, and Scott Woodcock, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24, (2021): 611-623.
- The True Self as Essentially Morally Good – An Obstacle to Moral Improvement?, Journal of Moral Education, (2021).
- Virtue as Skill and the Virtues of Self-Regulation, Journal of Value Inquiry 55, Special Issue on Virtue and Skill, (2021): 355-369.
- Learning from Failure: Shame and Emotion Regulation in Virtue as Skill, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23(2), Special Issue on Virtue Ethics and Moral Psychology (2020): 341-354.
- with Ellen Fridland and Matt Stichter; It Just Feels Right: an account of expert intuition, Synthese, Special Issue on Minds in Skilled Performance (2020).
- with Grace N. Rivera, Matthew Vess, Rebecca J. Brooker, Matt Stichter, and Jenae M. Nederhiser, Exploring Relations between Beliefs about the Genetic Etiology of Virtue and the Endorsement of Parenting Practices, Parenting: Science and Practice, (2020).
- with Matt Stichter and Leland Saunders, Positive Psychology and Virtue: Values in Action, Journal of Positive Psychology 14(1), Special Issue on Character Strengths and Virtues (2019): 1-5.
- with Matthew Vess, Rebecca J. Brooker, Matt Stichter, and Jenae M. Nederhiser, Genes and Virtue: Exploring how heritability beliefs shape conceptions of virtue and its development, Behavioral Genetics 49(2), Special Issue on Genetics and Human Agency, (2019): 168-174.
- Practical Skills and Practical Wisdom in Virtue, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94:3 (2016): 435-448.
Chapters in Edited Volumes
- Differentiating the Skills of Practical Wisdom, in De Caro and Vaccarezza (eds.), Practical Wisdom: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Routledge (2021).
- Virtue as a Skill: Self-Regulation and Social Psychology, in Fridland and Pavese (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise. Routledge (2020), 487-501.
- Virtue as a Skill, in Nancy Snow (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Virtue. New York: Oxford University Press (2017), 57-84.
- The Role of Motivation and Wisdom in Virtue as Skill, in Annas, Narvaez & Snow (eds.), Developing the Virtues: Integrating Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press (2016), 204-223.
- Public debates – Testing your intellectual abilities?; for Open for Debate – Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse, January 14, 2019
- Group membership, moral criticism and self-affirmation; for Open for Debate – Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse, May 21, 2018
- The Mind of Skill, Part 4: Virtue as skills – Matt Stichter on self-regulation and virtue ethics (2021)
- Why Your ‘True Self’ Is An Illusion (2021)
2016 College of Arts and Sciences William F. Mullen Memorial Teaching Award
- Graduate Seminar in Ethical Theory
- Graduate Seminar in Business Ethics
- Ethical Theory
- Business Ethics
- Philosophy of Law
- Social and Political Philosophy
- Introduction to Ethics
- Introduction to Philosophy
- Independent Study: Moral Psychology